Thanks to the near-ubiquity of social media, it’s more difficult than ever for famous people to get away with doing really stupid stuff. As Jason Aldean found out this week, the Internet will find out if you dress up in an offensive and racist Halloween costume, even if you’re difficult to recognize. Several days after Halloween, photos of the artist dressed up as Lil Wayne surfaced online, and the fallout has been predictably swift.
Aside from the fact that a Lil Wayne costume seems pretty dated in 2015, Aldean chose to accentuate his dreadlocks wig and gold chain with full blackface. According to NashvilleGab, a Music City gossip site that first obtained the photo, the photo is of Aldean, his wife (presumably the white woman dressed like a “gangster” posing next to Aldean) and a few friends.
When the photos first surfaced, no one knew that Aldean was attempting to impersonate Weezy F. Baby. Yesterday, his publicist was forced to confirm the rumors, and told The Guardian that Aldean’s costume was inspired by the rapper. She did not, however, address Aldean’s blackface or issue an apology on behalf of the artist. For his part, Aldean has stayed mum, only promoting Coldplay songs on Tidal, the Jay-Z owned streaming service on which users stream his music, and wishing people a happy Veterans Day on social media in the days since the photos made headlines.
People on Twitter, though, weren’t so silent. The photo quickly circulated amongst the major gossip outlets and fans had plenty to say about Aldean’s get-up. Lil Wayne has stayed silent about the controversy, probably because stupid white guys have been dressing up like him since he first started rapping.
The news coincides with Aldean’s anticipated return to Spotify. Aldean removed his albums from the streaming platform late last year in a dispute over streaming royalties. In a statement posted to Twitter on November 5, Aldean writes that the return to Spotify was in response to fan demand. “I’ve heard from you, the fans, all summer, on the road and online that you miss being able to stream my music,” read the statement.
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Perhaps not surprisingly, more of the tweets coming from Aldean fans in recent days were related to being able to stream his albums than the blackface controversy. Others suggested that the “PC police” were overreacting to the costume.
Unfortunately, this isn't country music's first brush with blackface in recent memory. A few years ago, country singer and Dancing with the Stars dancer Julianne Hough stirred a similar controversy when she was photographed while dressed as Uzo Aduba's character Crazy Eyes from Orange Is the New Black. To her credit, at least Hough tweeted an apology when the photos went viral. We'll see whether or not Jason Aldean issues a similar mea culpa in the coming days.